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Origin and Destination of Humanity
GA 53

XI. The Evolution of the Earth

9 March 1905, Berlin

This lecture is something like a continuation of that which I held about the origin of the human being. We come today back to times which are in the distant past, and we get to concepts which are very far to the present materialistic thinking. Hence, allow me that I tie on a few introductory words about the relation of my topic to the contemporary ideas.

It has absolutely to be clear to everybody who has penetrated and understood the scientific knowledge of the present that today the theosophical ideas about the origin of the earth can be taken as something very speculative, maybe even very fantastic. However, do not believe if one goes deeper into the matters that then a real contradiction appears between the scientific and the theosophical ideas. We have to get absolutely clear about the fact that the naturalist is only able to verify and to explain what takes place in the external sensory world and is to be grasped with the scientific reason. I am of the opinion completely that about such difficult questions, as this is one, also from the theosophical point of view only somebody should speak who is also familiar with the whole scientific education of our time, so that he has an idea of it, how much he violates the generally accepted ideas. However, I would like to put an example of mutual understanding on the top of my lecture for those who oppose these advanced views from the materialistic point of view.

It was at the end of the sixties, when for the last time an even if pessimistic; nevertheless, decidedly idealistic philosophy appeared which made a deeper impression on a bigger public. It was Eduard von Hartmann's (1842–1906) Philosophy of the Unconscious (1869). I only want to say what has resulted historically. Hartmann bore down on the ideological ideas which originated from Darwinism. When one noticed which great impression the Philosophy of the Unconscious caused, many opposing writings appeared. Among these one appeared anonymously with the title The Unconscious from the Standpoint of Physiology and the Theory of Evolution (1872). The most significant philosophers said that it was the best writing against Eduard von Hartmann and his philosophy. The writing was sensational. The naturalists realised that it was written by a naturalist and that Eduard von Hartmann was disproved thoroughly. The second edition of the same anonymous writing appeared soon afterwards, however, with the name of the author, namely with the name of Eduard von Hartmann! It was an ingenious mystification! Indeed, I am not a Hartmannian or follower of the Philosophy of the Unconscious, but this philosophy stands higher and contains more than one can otherwise bring forward from the pessimistic side. Hartmann showed that one only needs to scale down his point of view to understand the matters in question still much deeper than the opponents. Thus spiritual science or theosophy may also express itself in such a way like those who believe to be the best naturalists. I have said this to show that one may also disprove theosophy in similar way. However, theosophy may give this rebuttal better than any other.

We have to take into consideration that we deal with very difficult chapters and that it is exceptionally laborious to penetrate into these regions. However, it is even more difficult to find the appropriate means of expression within our language only shaped for the external sensuous world. One has to use everything possible to dress the fine, subtle concepts and the views which are taken from purely spiritual worlds into clear language. Nevertheless, I attempt to pictorially and clearly express what is familiar to me as experience in these higher fields. You find the relevant periods of the big world evolution also shown in the theosophical literature. But you find them shown more schematically than I will do it today. I do not make any objection to this schematic description which may also be useful and gives clear concepts of this evolution to the reason. One can learn this from the theosophical manuals. However, I would like to describe it somewhat clearer.

We have seen the human being facing us as another being in very distant times taking on the physical dress only bit by bit not having his origin from the physical but from the psychic. We have seen the psychic leading the way of the physical, the psychic developing the forces in itself by which it can gradually clothe itself in this physical dress. All that has been shown. At the same time, we have drawn our attention to the fact that we can trace back the human being, as well as he faces us today, only through a certain number of periods.

We are within the fifth age of our physical earth development. Another age preceded it that took place on a continent which forms the bottom of the Atlantic today. And another age preceded this Atlantean age called the Lemurian age. At that time, in the middle of the Lemurian age, we find that, actually, that connects with the human being, as well as he had developed till then which we call our immortal spirit. This higher element, this higher nature of the human being which outlasts any physical corporeality and any psychic development in other words the eternal in the human being this has established itself in those days. If we want to express ourselves figuratively, we may call it a spiritual spark in the human nature, so that the human being faces us till then as the connection of soul and body. Up to the middle of the Lemurian age, our ancestors were bodily-psychic beings.

If we want to conceive a clear idea how these human ancestors were in some way, actually, we have to remember that the spirit is inseparably connected with any really higher thinking. Without spirit the human being could not count, without spirit he could not speak, without spirit no higher spiritual activity, never mind still higher activities would be possible. So that we deal with a human being till then who waited to become mind-endowed who did not yet have the immortal part who had, however, a soul-life that was completely different from ours. Our soul-life is infiltrated with spirit. If we want to call the human being who was not yet mind-endowed a human being and we want to do this for the sake of the shortness of time , we must say that his soul-life was vague that it was a more dreamy, pictorial soul-life. One can understand the soul-life of the human being at that time only if one traces it back one period more. In the time of which I have spoken now the human being is able to receive external body impressions, to perceive the surroundings. This perception developed only slowly and gradually.

If we trace back the Lemurians still farther, we find that the human ancestors have sensation already, indeed, that the external objects make impressions on them but that they could not connect ideas with these external percepts. If you imagine a soul-life like that of the dream, then you have something similar. However, it is not completely the same. For the pictorial ideas which surged up and down in the soul at that time were much clearer, much more original and more elementary, much more saturated than the confused dream pictures of the present-day average person are. Above all, these pictures in the human soul were dependent in certain way on that which took place around the human being. At that time, the human being was not yet able to associate a colour with an external object, he could not yet see the things coloured. He could not see that an object is green or red; the colour idea did not yet combine with the object. Nevertheless, colours still surged in the human soul. These colours had some resemblance to that which the clairvoyant knows if he develops certain capacities in himself. The clairvoyant sees not only the external physical, but also the feelings and instincts in the form of an aura. The physical human being is only one part of the human being. The physical human being is embedded like in a cloud in which all sorts of formations surge up and down. Only someone can see them who has the gift of clairvoyance in our theosophical sense not in the sense of spiritism. I pass some remarks about the acquisition of such capacities next time when I speak about the great initiates of the world. Any real initiation can be connected only with the gift of clairvoyance. The capacities of the great initiates originated from the gift of clairvoyance.

Today you have to be an absolutely reasonable person, before you become a clairvoyant. You must be able to think logically and clearly. Somebody who would attain the gift of clairvoyance without having developed the gift of the reasonable, clear thinking would receive a bad gift. He would be led to a world of fancies rather than to a higher spiritual world. There he would miss any control and would face it like the chaotic dream world. Not before you get into the habit of logical, clear, reasonable thinking, so that you walk through the spiritual things as the reasonable human being walks through tables and chairs, so that it is no longer anything special, you can understand that the gift of clairvoyance guides one into the riddle of the world. All occult schools have as a precondition that the human being is a quite reasonable, maybe a somewhat sober human being, so that he is the opposite of a daydreamer. Hence, we say that clairvoyance, the cognition of the astral auric world, is connected with the development of our spiritual abilities.

The view of the human being, as I have described it, was similar in the pre-Lemurian time. But it was not pervaded with consciousness. Only a dim consciousness existed in the human being. Indeed, at that time on this level he already felt what was hot and cold; he had a sense of touch and could perceive certain differences of density. He also had the gift of hearing. The sense of hearing is one of the oldest senses which humanity developed. But he did not yet have the sense of seeing. This still was, so to speak, an internal one. The colours lived as pictures in the human soul. If he came, for example, to a region which was colder than that he came from then in his soul a colour picture of darker colour shadings appeared. If he made it reversely, if he came from a colder air layer to a warmer one, then there was a yellowish or a yellowish-reddish colour picture. Thus those human beings had colour pictures which did not combine, however, with the surface of the bodies, but lived as uncertain colour pictures in the soul. This combined then with the surroundings of the human being.

But at that time the human being had something else. He had a fine sensitivity for that what took place emotionally in his surroundings. If we are here in a room, you do not sit there only as physical bodies, but also as souls. In each of you feelings and sensations live. These are also something real like the physical body is something real. What today the human soul has as sentient ability can no longer penetrate these forces of the feelings and sensation because just due to the further development of humankind the human being became clearer in his consciousness because he has developed his reason, his everyday view. But he has temporarily lost what existed in his soul. He will regain this ability maintaining his present reasonability and his clear waking consciousness. Once the whole humankind attains a state which today only the practical mystic, the clairvoyant has. In order to attain this state the human being had to go through a merely physical view, through a merely bodily percipience. In one respect humankind gets to a higher level, and in another respect it descends to a lower level in certain way.

At that time, the human being came from a vague, dim percipience. But this was at the same time mental-clairvoyant percipience. If now in the nearness of the human being any likeable feeling, anything emotional lived which you allow the expression emitted sympathy, then the human being received those bright colour pictures in himself. Bad feelings let arise darker colour pictures tending to blue, brownish, reddish colours. This was the interrelation of the inner soul-life with the external mental reality at that time. But at that time this external mental reality could just be perceived.

Only bit by bit the senses developed as they are today. With it the reason, the object consciousness came into being. The original gift of clairvoyance withdrew. At the same time, we come to a time where another development goes hand in hand with this development, the development of the so-called uni-sexuality. The human being was not always in such a condition as he is today concerning his reproduction. The bigger force which the soul had over the physical caused that the human being could produce a being of the same kind without resorting to another physical human being because he combined both sexes in himself. Hence, the transition was at the same time that of the mutual perception and that from hermaphroditism to uni-sexuality. At that time, the human brain was not yet developed in the same way as it is today. The human being was not yet such a cerebral being as he is today; at that time he also did not have such a perception as he has today. This is the time of which we have already spoken which is simultaneously the time of the creation of the human brain.

I have indicated last time that we do not sign Darwinism completely. We sign it in this respect that it shows the relationship of the physical human being with all other physical living beings on earth. But I have also indicated that we do not regard the imperfect animal living beings as ancestors of the present human beings, not even of the psycho-physical human beings. We have to regard these animal beings rather as branches of a common ancestor which resemble neither the modern human being nor the imperfect living beings, the animals of today.

In the time of which I have spoken, the higher mammals did not yet exist. The higher mammals have, just as the human being, only more imperfectly, a brain and a perception similar to the human one. Beings which have developed such a perception did not yet exist in this time. There were on the earth only beings with pictorial ideas, with a pictorial kind of soul formation, and basically everything was united in one single being, like in a common nodal point, that is today the human being and the higher animal realm. The human being was, in so far as it is a psycho-physical being, in a certain respect on the level of animality. But no present animal and also not the present human being resembles the human being of that time. However, the human being has developed so far that a part, a branch of the previous type has further-developed up to the present-day human beings. Other members of the beings of that time remained behind because of certain circumstances which I will especially show another time. They went back in their development, became decadent. These decadent beings are the higher animals.

I want to make this point clear to you and use the following for it: you know that there are regions in which Catholicism has degenerated to a kind of fetish service where it appears like adoring lifeless objects or pictures of saints. Nobody is able to state that this point of view, in proportion to the more perfect to which humankind has developed, is the same one. This fetish Christianity is a decayed Christianity. Thus it is also from the theosophical point of view considering different “savage” tribes. The materialistic history of civilisation regards them as ancestors of the civilised people. We regard them as decayed, decadent descendants of once advanced peoples. The same applies to the higher animals if we go back in time even farther. Once they were more perfect, they decayed. We come to a formation of the human realm which is different which shows the human being still undifferentiated from the other higher animal species, indeed, at a time which lies millions of years behind us.

How has it come to pass that the human being stopped in those days on the course of his development? Concerning his soul development the human being is completely the result of that which takes place round him. Simply imagine the room in which we are with a temperature higher than hundred degrees, and imagine also everything changing there! If you expand this thought to all the other natural conditions, it shows you that the human being is in truth completely dependent on the constellation and configuration of the forces within which he lives. He becomes another being if he is in another interrelation.

One made scientific attempts recently: one made butterflies hatch at temperatures at which they do not live, otherwise. One found that they change their colours and colour shadings. At higher temperatures even bigger changes are to be observed. Today the natural sciences are already a kind of elementary theosophy. Concerning theosophy there is no contradiction between the natural sciences and theosophy!

Thus the developmental levels of humankind also depended on the quite different developmental levels on our earth. Already the physicist says to you namely as a hypothesis that the farther we go back in the earth development, we come to higher and higher temperatures. The theosophist or the practical mystic sees really back to these primeval times, and he sees these conditions in the Akasha Chronicle as truth, like the average person sees table and chairs as truth before him. We come to a condition in which all substances on our earth are in quite different relations to each other than today.

You know that the substances if they are warmed up change their state. Solid substances become liquid, liquid ones become vaporous et etcetera Now we come back to much higher temperatures than we know on earth today. There the whole material world of our earth was different. Only someone who is set on the materialistic view and on the immediate view of our earth can get to the view that this is impossible. Who emancipates himself from our reality today also realises that life was possible in these higher temperatures of the earth .The human being really lived in these higher temperatures, indeed, in another way. He lived in the state of the “fire mist.” The bodies were a vaporous, soft mass which cannot really be compared with anything we know today. Thus we come back to quite different circumstances. One can still follow up this if one wants to get to know the origin of the earth. This origin is intimately connected with the whole development of the human being. If we go back, we find the human being in company of much lower animals which belong to the lower classes of our present-day animal realm which had, however, other figures in those days, were different from their present-day descendants. Because the earth became more solid and denser, they took on other shapes and characteristics. We have, if we observe what takes place in us with the bare rational eye, no idea how it looked at that time. An animal world, nevertheless, lived round the human being. As the human being takes up food from the physical world today, he also took up it in those days in similar way.

We have now to realise that what I tell now is something quite fantastic and strange for those who are not used to such ideas. The time has come to pronounce it once again. We stand on the point of evolution where again an idealistic world view will replace the purely materialistic one. Going back to these times, the whole materiality of our earth becomes different. At that time, the mass of the earth I ask you to not be too much astonished about what I say was still in connection with other heavenly bodies than it is the case today. Already somebody who thinks the present physical ideas without clairvoyance to an end understands that what I say is not completely inconsistent.

You need only to go back according to the Kant-Laplace theory to the time when the single planets do not yet circle the sun, have not yet developed from the primal nebula, and then you have a valiant, but correct hypothesis. We can also come back from the standpoint of the physicist to a time when the earthly materiality still was in contact with the materiality of the whole solar system. At that time, the human being was much more related with everything than he is today. In the Akasha Chronicle we find in this time that the earth was in a material connection of much more intimate kind with another heavenly body which circles the earth today, with the moon. It was a certain material interrelation between earth and moon.

If I may express myself roughly: what we have today as earth mass formed only because the crude materiality that we have in the moon was extruded as it were. Both bodies have differentiated from each other. You can imagine which immense shocks must have occurred there in the whole materiality! This cosmic shock is the counter pole, the correlative of what I have told, the correlative of the big living being with whose separation and change is connected that the human being went over from hermaphroditism to uni-sexuality. The whole separation did not take place in one go. Unfortunately, the reading of the theosophical literature offers so much opportunity to assume as if a heavenly body hurries out of the other. However, it is not a violent development. Slowly and gradually everything took place, in millions and millions of years. However, it is difficult to speak about figures because one must get to know the methods which the secret doctrine applies.

If we go back even farther, we find another interrelation that is harder to imagine and more intimate than that interrelation which today exists between sun and earth. But it existed in an older time. We want to take an idea in hand which makes it somewhat easier to us to illustrate this interrelation a little figuratively. If you see the sun and then imagine the sun limited within space is it really limited that way? Already a quite usual reflection can teach us that a real demarcation of the sun is basically not possible.

Does the sun really stop being where one sees its border? It does not stop there, its effect spreads through the whole planetary system. On our earth the sun has an effect. Does not belong that to the sun body what the sun makes on our earth, do not the etheric forces belong to it which spread on the earth and make life possible? Are these etheric forces not only the continuation of the etheric forces of the sun? Or their force of attraction? Does it not belong to the sun? There we see that if we understand the existence in an unrestricted way, we can realise that such an arbitrary limitation does not take place if we speak of a heavenly body like the sun. The effects which come from the sun were in the former times still quite different on the earth than they were later, and than they are today. They were in such a way that, if anybody could sit down on a chair and could have looked at the whole world edifice basically the physicist imagines this in such a way if he illustrates it to the children , he would not have perceived the sun and the earth as separate bodies, but he would have over-viewed the whole filled with perceptible contents; he would have seen that the earth is crystallised from the whole sun ball in later times.

If we go back to the times of the most distant earth past, we come to a point where that what has deposited in the lunar matter today was still connected with the earthly matter where the forces, which are pulled out today, were still efficient on the matter. These had effects on our physical bodies. They formed it in such a way that it reacted in quite different way to the forces and that in quite different way the effects on the bodily expressed themselves. In even earlier times the solar effect on the earth was there in an even more different way than today, also concerning growth. When the lunar body and the earth body were still united, we have all earth beings in a state which we only find with the animals which have the temperature of their surroundings approximately. The warm blood starts to develop to the same extent as the lunar matter withdraws from the earth.

If we go back farther to the times in which the solar body was still connected with the earth, we find within the human ancestors the effects which are preserved today in quite decadent forms of the lowest animals. The human being reproduced in those days by a kind of separation process. The human being existed in delicate matter, even more delicate than the fire mist. At that time, the reproduction happened as a kind of detachment. The daughter being had the same size as the mother being. The solar forces were in those days vital forces. They overpowered the material. They imprinted forms to the material. Thus we look, if we go back to the origin of our earth, at a time in which the human being was surrounded by subtler and subtler material states.

In the end, we get to a state which only the clairvoyant can envision where the most delicate etheric corporeality merges into astral being; as a pure soul-being the human being was placed in the earthly scene. The human beings who were formed like the physical aura were placed into the earthly scene. In the soul forces worked that imprinted forms into the matter soaking up the matter into themselves and forming it so that they became external seal impressions, a kind of shades of that what the souls were in the pure soul land. Now we have come back to the stage of our earth where the human being did not yet have the physical materiality where the human being only came in as an astral being into this physical world which was in those days of extremely delicate nature. Now we could go back to still much older states in which the human being did not yet have this astral existence. We could go back to purely spiritual states. Now, however, this should not interest us; for we do not want to pursue the human being, but the origin of the earth.

A few words more about the course backward. We meet the human being there, so to speak, still without material earth. He is not yet embodied in physical corporeality. There we would have to go back long periods if we wanted to find the human being at the former developmental stadia. The human being who was placed as a soul-being on the earth has the ability to draw the substance to himself in a particular way. If one were able to investigate the etheric man, one would perceive that his soul was already organised. It could already create forms. It had to develop for that for long times.

It had already gone through long developmental states. These have been completed on other heavenly bodies, of course. How have we to imagine such a development on other heavenly bodies? All the abilities which the soul had acquired were in such a way that they could work in the physical. It was led from former developmental states. The soul had to have already gone through physical states several times, because only within the physical world certain abilities can be developed. The human being could not speak and think today unless he had got into contact with the physical nature. What we work today becomes our ability later. I have often pointed to the child that learns to write and read. When the child has grown up, it can write and read. What was labour, what was intercourse with the outside world before has disappeared, but the fruit, the result has remained. This is the ability of writing and reading. What we have in the soul has originated from the intercourse with the outside world.

The theosophical world view calls it involution. If the human being again works out from within what he has acquired, we call it evolution. Between involution and evolution all life takes place. What the soul has done in the evolution is based on the fact that the abilities have emerged from the soul. These abilities were acquired once by involution. This involution took place again in another physical body. We have there an important moment that has happened on our earth; this is the moment when the human being was able to become a warm-blooded being from a cold-blooded one, because the lunar matter had emerged. This is the important point of the earth development. In all mystic schools this is emphasised. The human being takes the heat into him and reworks it inside. The myth which always shows the great truths figuratively preserved this in the Prometheus legend. Prometheus got down the fire from the heaven. This is the warmth of the human being that he got down there, not the external heat. Thus the human being had to get down all remaining abilities from the heaven, too.

I would like to lead you still to a point that is also very important for the earth development. This is the moment when the human being takes up in him what we have once got to know as the inside of the soul. We have seen that pictures have risen up in the human being which he associated with the objects. The human being possessed this ability to develop light in him in the first time. He acquired that sooner as well as he acquired the ability later to develop warmth. The human being developed the ability to sense light around him or still more properly speaking to sense the objects around him in the light. This took place on a planet which the theosophical world view calls “Moon.” However, this was not our physical moon. When the soul had acquired the ability of the inner light, the connection was there, and who knows the circumstances of the past, knows that it evoked the soul ability of seeing colours, the inner luminescence. We have to realise once how this abilities are connected. The development of warmth is connected with all life on our earth, with the present kind of reproduction, with the way the human being can bring something into real existence. Everything else is combining; only the reproduction is a real creating, and this is connected with warmth. We have a similar level of development when the inner luminescence appeared. The human being developed the luminescence on a previous planet. This was a luminescence from within like it is warmth from within today. It was luminescence. With it we have come to the most excellent characteristic of the human being in his pre-physical state on another heavenly body. Everything that went out from the human being was luminous as his aura shines today. The human being was a luminous being, and the perception of the human being was the perception of his luminescence. At that time, luminescence developed down to the physical. It was a physical luminescence of the human being.

How do we get our most significant ideas of the environment? Just by means of the visual percepts. You would nearly lose nine tenths of that what you know if you cancel the visual percepts. Because we have visual ideas today, wisdom can pour somewhat in us. With our lunar ancestors this was different. From them the light was emitted. The same was emitted from them that pours in us as light effects today. One calls our earth the universe of love in the mystic mythology because it is connected with forces of love. The universe of wisdom on which the light played the same role as today the warmth preceded this universe of love. The earth followed as a universe of love the universe of wisdom. The inner light is connected with the human will. The human being, who has certain desires, passions, sensations, and emotions, provides his aura, his astral body with particular colour shapes. These are subjected to the will in a broader sense. In those days, in the lunar period, the whole human being was an expression of will. The will flowed outwardly and came to the fore as that which shines.

Hence, our ancestors are the sons of will if we call these human beings of the universe of wisdom human beings. The children of love descended from the sons of will. The light played a similar role in those days as today the heat on the earth. One calls these luminous human beings within the luminous environment also the sons of the twilight. It was an especially luminous human being within the surrounding luminosity, an exchange of light took place as we have an exchange of warmth today. As we have a feeling of cold if it is cold one approximately had a feeling if it was darker all around than in the own inside. The will was the basis of that because the will basically found its expression in the whole surroundings. As today the human being is creative by love, he was creative in those days using his will. His will had an immediate influence on all surroundings. As powerless the creating human being is before the physical things of the outside world today because he has got to clearness in his consciousness and thereby the other soul forces have become more imperfect , as powerful the will was in those days. The human will had influence on the whole physical surroundings. Because it strives and is the upward trend in the development, this will strove for the higher. Thus that was caused, immediately from the living nature, what separated the centre of the heavenly body in two, so that at that time already a kind of invagination took place. One centre became two centres in a more mental way. We see this separation of the centres achieved in the later development in the separation of the earth and the moon.

These are sketchy indications I could give you. However, you will see that the matters coincide. Who tries to think consistently and strictly can admit this from the start. I myself might give a rebuttal as I have indicated it in the outset concerning Eduard von Hartmann. Habitual ways of thinking are something temporary. Who studies history of the Middle Ages, for example, not only the external one, because it is a wrong picture which is given to us, finds my explanations verified.

Goethe also says that it is basically only the historians' own spirit, in which the times are reflected. It is the task of theosophy to show the development in the past to receive an idea of the great human future. I have quoted Goethe, because he deeply looked into these mystic, mysterious connections of the world development. He used a strange figure, the “old man with the lamp” in his Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. The lamp can only shine where another light shines. I have shown that as the incarnation of ancient wisdom. Now we come to an even more profound significance. It becomes clear to us what Goethe means with the light which spreads its light only where light is. Where the gift of clairvoyance is developed again, the lamp develops its whole magic force. There we get to that time when the human being becomes the flame to look back to this epoch in which he was a luminous being when the ability developed to bring light into existence. Goethe knew that this internal light was there once in the human being and that the present-day seeing of light is a later developmental state.

Before the human being could see the sun, he had to become an internally luminous being first; he had to develop light in himself to show light to the light. Goethe was a mystic; one does not know it only. At the head of his preface to the theory of colours he pronounces it using the words of an old mystic:

Unless the eye were like the sun,
How could we see the light?
Unless God's own force lived in us,
How could delight us the divine?